A REVIEW OF THIS MUST SEE SHOW
It’s brash, its brazen and at times a little blue but Benidorm Live radiates a wonderful feel good factor across the footlights.
I can’t profess to be a regular viewer of this sit-com but over the years I have been what you could term an intermittent viewer, but after seeing the stage show I am smitten and time permitting could add this on to my regular viewing list!
Benidorm Live is a cleverly designed and written stage play with music that’s fast-moving, energetic, full of belly laughs and double entendres – but above all it’s a seamless, energetic production oozing with zest and vitality.
It’s played out on an ingeniously designed set with a revolve that moves the production along at break neck speed whilst the lighting can only be described as technically brilliant.
But the secret of the show’s success is the hard core audience of fans and their love for five main characters from the series evident by the applause and cheers on their first appearances on stage.
The storyline is strong and involves mistaken identities, dalliances between the staff and a shed-load of risqué dialogue.
Once the Benidorm theme music starts you soon begin to feel part of life at this cheap and cheerful all-inclusive hotel and know you are in for an evening of cheeky seaside postcard humour with no holes barred.
Benidorm Live does have a plot which it keeps to throughout the show, a rarity with shows in this particular genre.
This is Benidorm creator and writer Derren Litten’s first attempt at writing for the stage and I sincerely hope its not his last. He has cleverly created the storyline to follow on where the last series of the show finished where the Solana is being taken over by Belray, a large hotel group.
There’s speculation amongst the staff that undercover hotel inspectors are in the building from the Belray Hotels to decide on the future of the hotel and this is the lynch pin on which Litten has created some of its comedy gems that bode well on the stage.
Although the opening is a little slow and laboured it soon gets into its stride. We meet a patronising-to-her guests Joyce Temple Savage (Sherrie Hewson) who has a reason for every aspect of the hotel’s bad service – as a travel writer and hotel review I know her type so well! Loud and mouthy tour rep Sam (Shelley Longworth) is true to form and later in the show proves she can do more than give out leaflets when she bursts into song.
But it’s when we arrive at the hair salon Blow and Go that the outrageous and magnificent comedy kicks in.
Kenneth (Tony Maudsley) is king of the inuendo and has some wonderful lines all dispatched with immaculate comedy timing, to die for facial expressions and garish clothing.
There’s a new character Derek (Damian Williams), a member of Jacqueline’s Middlesbrough Swingers Set. Williams has mastered the role and developed the character to absolute perfection and I sincerely hope Little will consider putting the character of Derek into the next series. Together Maudsley and Williams make a great team and are pure comedy gold.
Janine Duvitski’s Jacqueline is outstanding. What a super character this actress has created in this rather off the wall role. She’s able to handle the most difficult comedy situations so beautifully and makes even the most suggestive innuendo sound so innocent. I so loved her version and her moves in the 60’s Hit Rubber Ball. There are times, in the show when Duvitski keeps the humour going with a series of one liners and that archetypal Jacqueline amazed look when so easily it could flag.
Benidorm Live gives the talented Jake Canuso (Mateo) a chance to show he’s not just a Spanish sex on legs.
Canuso has a long and impressive career behind him not only as an actor but as a dancer and the show gives him the opportunity to show off his dance skills in several dance styles from modern to an exciting Flamenco routine.
Adam Gillen (Liam) the fifth member of the fantastic five, the stylist at Blow and Go comes over much better on T.V. than on stage. At times his delivery of dialogue is not very clear whilst at others he seems to lose the character turning it into a mini Frank Spencer but never-the-less he gets the laughs and has some of the best lines in the show..
Completing the cast are Tricia Adele-Turner and Bradley Clarkson as a married couple with very different ideas about the requirements of a holiday hotel and Will Jennings as Ricky, a supposedly non English speaking member of staff who when pushed has a better command of English Grammar than the average Brit in Benidorm.
Pulling it all together is real life Benidorm club singer Asa Elliott with his repertoire of 60’s songs such as Y’Viv Espana, Shang-a-Lang and Livin La Vida Loca who puts vocal sparkle into the show.
No review would be complete without mentioning the hard working all singing, all dancing ensemble who work their way through numerous cameo roles changing their personas as often as they do their costumes.
As a theatre reviewer I more often than not leave the theatre in the same mood as I enter it in but I must say as I ventured out into the plummeting temperatures of the night air, I shared with the rest of the departing audience the feel good factor that this happy show dispenses.
Runs until 3rd November.
Liz Coggins is a member of The Critics Circle.